September 12, 2016
FREEPORT - Two off-duty police officers braved flames and heavy smoke when they entered a Freeport home Monday morning and helped evacuate a family to safety.
The flames broke out around 6:30 a.m. at the home on Roosevelt Avenue. Freeport Police Officer Corey Cooke and Nassau Police Officer Gary Boulanger were on their way to work when they noticed the flames.
The two officers ran toward the danger without any protective gear to help save the residents' lives.
"You're not really thinking about yourself at that time, you just want to get the people out," said Officer Cooke, who has been with the Freeport Police Department for three months and is also a third-generation firefighter.
The officers helped five people to safety, then went back in on their hands and knees as the smoke grew thicker to save a 90-year-old grandmother still trapped inside.
"I was able to grab her feet, Officer Cooke took her shoulders," recalled Officer Boulanger.
Members of the Ramirez family were treated for smoke inhalation and were released from the hospital. The grandmother remains hospitalized with an undisclosed injury, but is expected to be OK.
The family returned to their charred home later in the day to salvage what's left of their belongings. They were too distraught to speak with News 12 on camera, but say they are grateful to be alive.
Most of the damage was to the back of the house, where officials say the fire broke out on the home's exterior and then quickly spread inside. The cause is under investigation.